How To Choose A Security System For Your Growing Family
Choosing a home security system for your budding family is crucial. You need one that is fully capable of protecting everyone in your household, but you also need a security system that is versatile and flexible to changes that may come in the future. With all that being said, we recommend that you compare alarm companies using these three criteria.
We all know that starting a family requires a lot of planning, especially the financial aspects. While we discourage you from buying a cheap security system to save money, we recommend finding one that is well within your budget. You must consider both the upfront cost and the long-term cost. How much will it cost you to get a security system set up? How much is the monthly fee? Are there other fees you should know about?
Another thing we all know about starting a family is that changes are bound to happen every now and then. Can your security system accommodate such changes? For example, if you decide to move, can you take your security system with you or will it require you to purchase a brand new system for your new home? Hint: Most wireless systems can move with you.
Also, can your security system grow with your family? If you do renovations and add a new room to your house, can you also buy new sensors and devices for the additional space, preferably without spending hundreds of dollars on the installation of just a couple of devices?
You should also consider how much you can upgrade your security system. A growing family has growing security needs. Does your security system support features that can help you safely raise a child? Does it have smart home capabilities to make life easier for everyone?
3. All-Around Protection
Protecting your family from crime, especially burglary and home invasions, is a top priority. However, there are other dangers that might affect your family's well-being, such as home fire and medical emergencies. There are companies that offer all-inclusive monitoring; they will monitor for burglaries and intrusions, fire, and medical emergencies, so it's a good idea to consider getting an alarm system from those companies.
Raising a family is already a lot of work, so you want a security system that won't add too much of a burden to you. We're not just talking about easy-to-use features or smartphone control. You should also look at their policies and customer service. Are they available to provide tech support during ungodly hours when your system starts beeping for no particular reason? How good is their customer support? Are their technicians trustworthy and professional? These small things can make a huge difference to your overall experience as a customer, so be sure to add them to your research.
5. Our Recommendation
The three criteria above probably left you with more questions than answers, so if you don't know where to start, consider our recommendations. Many of our staff have been or still are going through the same phase as you of building a family. As security experts with over a decade of combined experience, we've researched, analyzed, and compared countless alarm companies. We've even tested some of these security systems in our own homes. Below, you will find our top three picks.
Our Top Pick: Frontpoint
Frontpoint is one we have tested and recommend. They've been our top overall pick for several years in a row now and they continue to impress us with their features and exceptional customer service.
In terms of pricing, Frontpoint is one of the most affordable security systems. For less than $100, you can set up a basic system fully capable of protecting your home. Frontpoint's monthly rate isn't too high, either. The entry-level monitoring rate is only $34.99 per month, significantly lower than many of the competition. If you have a higher budget, we recommend the $44.99 per month Interactive plan, which includes smartphone access and home automation features. They even guarantee that your monthly rate won't increase for the duration of your three-year or one-year contract.
The Frontpoint system is expandable. All their three monitoring plans use the same base station, the Frontpoint Hub. You can start with a low level plan, and when the time is right, add home automation or even cameras and upgrade your monitoring plan without buying a new system. They also offer DIY equipment. If you buy new products down the line, you won't have to pay an installer to install your new devices.
Feature-wise, Frontpoint is top-notch. They offer all-inclusive monitoring of burglary, fire, and medical emergencies. You only need to buy the necessary equipment, such as smoke alarms for fire monitoring and medical pendants and buttons for medical emergencies. As already mentioned, they also have cameras and home automation devices.
Perhaps our favorite thing about Frontpoint is that they're easy to deal with. They have an exceptional customer service values that you can't usually find in other alarm companies. They are courteous, professional, and they get things done. They are even open to replacing defective devices at no cost to you. Even the return shipping is free. They also have customer-friendly policies. For example, if you have to relocate, they have a Free Move Program wherein a moving kit is provided for free. The kit includes fresh adhesive tapes that you can use when you re-install the security system in your new home.
There are so many great things about Frontpoint that make them an ideal alarm company for starting families. If you want to learn more, we have a much more detailed breakdown of their features, offers, and policies in our in-depth Frontpoint review.
Does Frontpoint require a contract?
Monitoring contracts are standard in the alarm industry. Frontpoint's standard contracts are three years, but you have the option to shorten it to one year if you pay a higher upfront fee.
What will happen if I cancel service without finishing my contract with Frontpoint?
As is usual in the alarm industry, there is a penalty. However, instead of buying out the entire contract balance, which is what most companies require, Frontpoint only charges 80% of the remaining contract balance.
Is Frontpoint available nationwide?
Yes, they are. Frontpoint is available in all 50 states and also in Canada. If you relocate within these locations, you will be able to take Frontpoint with you.
Simplisafe is currently running one of the best promotions we've seen. Check their website for full details.
If Frontpoint's rate is a little out of your price range, SimpliSafe is a great alternative. SimpliSafe is a hybrid alarm company. They offer professional monitoring just as most traditional alarm companies, but you can also use their security system without a subscription. Their monitoring rates are also up to $20 less than the normal rate of traditional alarm companies.
With SimpliSafe, you can get professional monitoring for as low as $14.99 per month. Granted, it doesn't include a lot of features. In fact, the $14.99 per month monitoring package only covers 24/7 professional monitoring plus cellular backup so your system can send still send alerts when your internet is down. Upgrading to the higher monitoring package, which costs $24.99 per month, unlocks all the potentials of the security system. You'll get professional monitoring and cellular backup, plus enjoy smartphone app access and security camera features including video verification. Verification is useful in speeding up police response as it helps the monitoring center identify if there really is a crime in progress. Even at $24.99 per month, SimpliSafe's monthly rate is still lower than most alarm companies.
However, there is a trade-off. SimpliSafe doesn't offer equipment financing, which means you will have to pay a higher upfront fee towards the purchase of your security system. The smallest package, comparable to Frontpoint's basic equipment package, will cost you $229.
Another advantage of SimpliSafe is that they don't require monitoring contracts. For example, if you're a little low on budget for a month, you can temporarily suspend your SimpliSafe monitoring without penalties. You can still use the system without a subscription, albeit as a local alarm that relies on its siren to notify you and ward off intruders.
Of course, as a DIY installed wireless security system, you are free to take the system with you in case of a move or buy additional devices for system expansion.
For more information about SimpliSafe, check out our SimpliSafe review.
Is SimpliSafe available nationwide?
Yes. You can buy SimpliSafe and have the system delivered straight to your address anywhere in the country. Their monitoring service is also available nationwide.
Does SimpliSafe require monitoring contracts?
No. SimpliSafe is a hybrid security system with no contracts. You can even use the system without a subscription or opt in and out of the service as you like.
How can I buy a SimpliSafe system?
You can buy a SimplISafe system online. They offer pre-built equipment packages, but you can also custom build your security system using their available devices.
Protect America is another interesting home alarm company. It's a traditional alarm company, but their pricing kind of matches that of SimpliSafe. They offer affordable, self-installed, wireless security systems with a low starting rate of $19.99 per month. How is this possible?
To put it lightly, Protect America has sacrificed some of the features in order to provide a lower monthly rate. However, these features can be added eventually by upgrading your monitoring plan. If want to test out the waters first, Protect America is a great solution.
With the $19.99 per month rate, you will get professional monitoring and receive a standard control panel, a motion sensor, and three door/window sensors. All the added equipment are free, which is why a three-year monitoring agreement is required. However, this monitoring package uses landline monitoring. First, landline monitoring requires that you have an active phone line. Second, it's not the most reliable communication method. Landlines are prone to disruption and a burglar can deactivate your security system simply by cutting your landline wires.
If you think landline monitoring won't cut it, you can upgrade to cellular monitoring down the line. Protect America's cellular monitoring rates are a little higher than Frontpoint, which uses cellular monitoring in all their monitoring packages. The entry-level plan is $41.99 per month. But then again, the equipment is free, and the almost $7 difference in the monthly rate pretty much covers Frontpoint's upfront cost.
Another interesting thing about Protect America is their rate lockdown. Once you sign the initial three-year contract, you're guaranteed to receive the same monthly bill for the next three years. Of course, Frontpoint does this, too, but there are a lot of alarm companies out there that increase their monthly bill almost every year.
Moving on to the features, Protect America covers the whole nine yards. They have professional security, fire, and medical emergency monitoring, smartphone app access, home automation, and cameras. However, their camera lineup is currently limited to an indoor camera.
Like our first two recommendations, Protect America is wireless and DIY. This means moving is easy and so is adding new equipment to your system.
There are a lot of things you should know about Protect America before buying, but we can't cover them all in this article. That said, we highly recommend giving our Protect America review a thorough read first.
Protect America FAQs
Is Protect America available nationwide?
Protect America is available in all 50 states and even in Canada.
How do I purchase a Protect America security system?
You can buy one directly from their website or call their sales hotline to get a quote. If you buy online, you will only be able to purchase cellular monitoring packages.
Does Protect America require contracts?
Yes. The standard contract length is three years.
What will happen if I cancel my Protect America monitoring plan without finishing the contract?
You will need to buyout your contract by paying the fee for the remaining unused months.